A few weeks later, King Pellinore is sitting atop the cliff with his bride-to-be. They are to travel to England the next day to be married. Inside the castle, King Lot—returned from battle—sleeps while Morgause stands silently at the window holding a strip in her hands. She is to go to England with Pellinore, as a token of pardon, and will take her children with her. The strip in her hands is called a spansel, and is a tape of human skin cut from a dead man. If you tie the spansel round the head of a man without him waking, he will fall in love with you.
Morgause is plotting to seduce Arthur—hence the spansel. Throughout the rest of the novel, Arthur will be accused of seducing Morgause by the Orkney clan. The Orkney clan, blinded by their love for their mother, are unable to see or even comprehend the reprehensibility of her actions. Further, Arthur does not know that Morgause is his half-sister, but she does know that seducing him will be a kind of incest.
The four children are awake too. They are kneeling in the Church of the Men, praying that they remain true to their mother, worthy of the feud, and that they never forget the misty land of Orkney.
These three prayers will come to shape much of the action throughout the rest of the novel.